HL Deb 10 May 1977 vol 383 cc161-3

2.49 p.m.


My Lords, I beg leave to ask the second Question which stands in my name on the Order Paper.

The Question was as follows:

To ask Her Majesty's Government what is the average speed of traffic in the Metropolitan Area of London at the latest available date, compared with what it was—

  1. (a) 12 months previously, and
  2. (b) 10 years before that.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, I regret the information is not available in precisely the form for which it has been asked. Surveys carried out by the Greater London Council showed that the average day-time off-peak speed of traffic was 20.6 mph in 1962, 21.3 mph in 1968–70 and 21.6 mph in 1971–73. A further survey was carried out in 1974–76 but the results for the Metroplitan Area have yet to he analysed.


My Lords, while thanking the noble Baroness for that Answer, may I ask whether she is aware that the public impression is that London traffic is slowing down and it is getting harder and harder to get from place to place? May I further ask what is being done to prevent further deterioration?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, to my surprise I found that the speed of traffic, off-peak, was slower than in the peak hours. That seems somewhat surprising, but I am assured it is correct. The changes of speed have to be viewed in relation to the increase in traffic levels. There has been an increase it traffic of about 11 per cent. in the off-peak period and somewhat less of an increase during the peak period. Since 1962, which was the first year the noble Lord asked about, traffic levels have increased by about two-thirds. The road system still seems to be coping at off-peak times but sometimes creaks under the strain. We believe that the overall peak period average speed of about 18 mph is some way from the grinding halt that was forecast some years ago.


My Lords, is not an overall peak figure somewhat misleading, in that in some areas traffic is nearly grinding to a halt in peak periods while in other areas it is flowing very freely?

Baroness STEDMAN

As I said, my Lords, the figures for which the noble Lord asked were not available in exactly the form in which he framed his Question. Also, it is sometimes misleading to ask for an average in this sort of area. No doubt, if we are getting an average, in some places it is faster and in others it is slower.

The Earl of HALSBURY

My Lords, would not the noble Baroness agree that an average quoted without its standard of deviation is about the most misleading statistic there can be?

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, so I was informed before I came into the Chamber!


My Lords, has my noble friend in her reply been talking about arithmetic means and, if not, what sort of average is being referred to? It would appear that there are so many averages that the Question is almost impossible to answer.

Baroness STEDMAN

My Lords, my noble friend is far too advanced for me. I take the average figure as provided from the analysis which was done by the Transport and Road Research Laboratory.